Poetic enigma Ghostpoet likes to keep us all guessing


Ghostpoet - Credit: Archant

»Ahead of his stint at the Hackney Empire, Ghostpoet, real name Obaro Ejimiwe, is seemingly little changed by fame.

His seminal first album, Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam, marked the 27-year old’s arrival quietly, with little fuss, onto the UK music scene.

But a Mercury Music nomination quickly changed all that and the boy with a lisp from south London, became a ‘‘name’’ overnight.

With his quick ascent and little clue to who the man ­behind the bowler hat and thick rimmed geps was, Ghostpoet – like his cryptic moniker – was a bit of an enigma.

Fast forward a couple of years and another exceptional album, Some Say I So I Say Light, the same man, though slightly more athletic in appearance, remains largely a mystery. And that’s exactly how he likes it.

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“I feel it’s important not to let your music become too self-absorbed,” says Ejimiwe. “I don’t want it to be all me all about me, me me.

“Yeah, there are narcissists in the industry but I’m not naming names. I’m one out of billions of people in the world and in the great scheme of things, I’m just not that important.”

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Working 9-5 for an insurance company, Ejimiwe famously produced his first, aforementioned album in his spare room. He is coy when I ask if he see himself as a champion for bedroom producers and rejects the ­title flatly, insisting: “There are more professional bedroom producers out there than me. You’ve just got to make the most of what you have and do your best with what’s around you.”


Attempting to delve deeper, I uncover his upbringing was ‘‘traditional and filled with music’’. No big revelation there but it’s something. I also discover a fondness for Hackney eatery A Little Bit of What You Fancy and a penchant for Pelican’s & Parrots: ‘‘It’s a cool little vintage shop with an underground rum bar.”.

Then, without warning, the conversation quickly turns back to music and the litany of records and pirate radio stations, in particular Déjà vu, which formed his diverse musical tastes. In recent times, such radio has influenced his ­own renowned Hackney based station NTS and the eclectic playlists Ejimiwe produces have come to be treated as a master class in music appreciation.

“I don’t like to limit myself to one genre,” he says, and notes the merits of Soundcloud and ‘‘shazaming’’ for sourcing the right mix of tracks for his signature music policy.

But what can we expect of his third album? The answer comes as somewhat of a surprise. “I like so many different styles of music but I don’t want it to turn out that way. I don’t want it to be eclectic. I think I’ll maybe focus more on two or three directions and go from there.”

And so, he remains a bit of a conundrum.

Maybe we should just stop trying to figure him out and simply be grateful there’s someone in the industry who retains integrity, loves what he does and is sure to never forget his roots – whatever they may be.

No doubt he likes to keep us guessing – but not as much as we like trying to work him out.

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